This fireside chat, led by Sarah Fricke (AVP Global Revenue Enablement, RingCentral) and Will Matthews (Director - Sales Operations & Enablement, Syniti), is originally from our awesome Future of Sales Festival in December 2022.
Catch the replay of this chat - and dozens of others from SEC events - on the membership dashboard, exclusively for SEC members.
In this fireside chat, Sarah and Will discuss:
- How to deal with the current challenges in sales enablement
- Applying frameworks to changing behaviors
- Key techniques to motivate your sales teams
- How to overcome language barriers in sales
Learn from their expertise right here. 👇
Dealing with current challenges in sales enablement
It’s great to be talking about this broad topic of changing attitudes and behaviors - it's a very interesting topic particularly in the digital and post-COVID world, where a lot of our behaviors and skill sets are being challenged on a fairly regular basis.
In the midst of Q4, most of us are constantly trying to keep on top of many changing priorities, challenges, and different ways of working.
My background is in learning and development in sales, and the combination of these two things from an enablement point of view is challenged more at this time of year (Q4) than at any other time.
I think that looking at it from a behavioral point of view and an attitudinal perspective is always interesting.
This isn’t necessarily about what we sell, we all sell different things.
But there’s certainly some commonality around the things that we need to think about when it comes to competencies and skills.
Absolutely, Will. I get excited to talk about this because I think that's a really big part of what we do in enablement. I actually look at it as a core pillar, owning the culture of our organizations.
A big part of culture is how behaviors change and what skills you need, but also what behaviors have to change in order to let those skills really shine.
At RingCentral, I have the opportunity to lead a phenomenal enablement team that’s always thinking about the fact that it's not about the product that's launching, or the process that we're rolling out - it’s about the why - why are we as a team doing this? .
I’ve had the benefit of being in the shoes of a salesperson earlier in my career, and I think that's really important too.
Whether it's sales, CS, or professional services that you're enabling, you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes.
If you haven't done that role before, go sit side by side with them on the floor and understand the behaviors that they do.
For example - why don't they like putting notes in Salesforce? We think we know the answer to that, but that doesn't necessarily mean we should assume.
You should always ask the question.
Behaviors are one of those really tricky parts of enablement. But when you crack that code, you become so much more successful, because you're not breaking down walls and you're not forcing people on leaderboards.
You're actually getting them to learn in the way that they want to learn based on the behaviors that they know make things successful.
I couldn't agree more, Sarah.
I don't know whether other people in sales excellence or enablement roles think the same way, but I believe that part of our challenge is to try and help reduce the amount of excuses or blockages there are for reps to perform well.
They are going to face complexities and challenges, and I think our job in sales ops and sales enablement roles is to try and remove those blockers.
Applying frameworks to changing behaviors
There's always going to be a knowledge challenge.
People need to know more, whether that's about the product, the process, the customer, or the industry.
Can they get that knowledge?
There’s resistance in putting that information into the single record of truth that we call our CRM systems. Whether you're on Salesforce or Dynamics, putting that knowledge in and sharing that is something that's a challenge.
But equally, just to keep the idea going, knowledge then leads to skill.
Skills and competencies - writing down what we expect, what's good, what's not so good, and debating those capabilities, and how we observe that being carried out in the field is a constant challenge from a purist, learning and development point of view - are we seeing skills being applied well?
This is augmented by a couple of other things.
Attitude, in particular, is based on, “how do I approach and how do I choose to show up?”, and that's the most variable thing in the whole model.
Today my attitude could be quite negative, and tomorrow it could be quite positive. However, today happens to be when I need to close the sale, and tomorrow is when I'm on holiday.
Some of that is solved for us through habits, the regular way of approving things, and the regular way of reviewing and practicing things.
Now, if you unpick that structure, it's KASH.
So if you remember nothing else from this article, remember these, as they become the things in the framework that all enablement can be done to.
- Do we know?
- How do we show up?
- Are we good and displaying skills?
- And habitually, are we repeating success?
That's really the key thing, and that's only varied then by the roles that we ask our reps to do.
I like the idea that we all need a framework, and KASH is a really good one.
There are tons of ways to formulate it, but at the end of the day, it's about how you think about that knowledge or behavior and get it to a specific role and function.
In my role, I actually span from our entry-level roles, from BDRs and SDRS through to AEs, our solutions engineering team, to CSM professional services. And that means a lot of different roles doing a lot of different things at the organization.
So how do we really think about what that particular role needs at that point in time?
‘At that point in time’ is a really critical part because ultimately, everything that you bring, they probably want to know if they can consume it, understand it, and put it into action right then.
Without putting it into action, changing that attitude, or practicing that skill, what happens is that it becomes a great thing on paper that they walk away from, instead of truly understanding how that could be embedded into who they are and how they do their jobs.
So as you think about doing this, it's important to sit side-by-side with the person that you're enabling and understand (at least from the top performers) what makes them successful.
There's a lot of work being done in enablement right now around role profiles - it used to be that old HR, L&D type of role, and we dismissed it when enablement really became an industry, but it's coming back around like all good things do, which is how we act as strategic advisors to our leadership within enablement and explain what good looks like.
They don't necessarily have time to be with every one of their top performers and know that.
It could be across 20 different managers on their team. So we have this unique perspective to be able to look across all top performers, distill that information, create the profile, and advise our senior leadership.
And that's where behaviors really start to change, when you really know the role and the function that you're enabling. That's why I believe it's so critical that we build out our teams to have a specific ratio.
Think about it - if it's one of us to 1,000 reps - what I just described isn’t possible.
So a lot of people bring on their first enablement leader, and they say, “Okay, you're off to the races, see what you can do.”
And it's our job to break it down and ask, “What role am I focused on first?”
I‘d love to help everybody, but the way that enablement works is when I have that one-to-one (ish) relationship, one to 50, one to 60, one to 70, I can create an impact in the org.
If I don't have that I'll never get to be role-specific, which means I can never implement this process, methodology, and thought process behind what I want to do.
There's a perspective here as well to Sarah’s point around bringing back some of what you’d classify as old-school enablement, role profiles, and competency models and skills.
Observationally, with the last few companies and customers I've worked with, setting expectations, writing them down, and being clear about what good looks like is something that's really important.
Particularly if we're doing more at distance, where we’re more digitally connected, it's critical that we set some clarity around it and write down:
“To do this job well, you need to be doing this, this and this, following this process, and maintaining this system.”
Then it allows management, sales ops, and enablement people to be consistent with their feedback.
For example, if me and a colleague are both in the same role, and I get one type of feedback, and you get another type of feedback, it's very difficult to align as to whether both of us are high performing or not.
Set the role definition with clear expectations alongside our sales ops friends, and by using the data that backs those expectations up - such as trends, win rates, and average deal value.
When you become a data-driven, performance-managed business, you go a long way.